Man acquitted in child trafficking case

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Tom Summer Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A Fort St. John man accused of sexually exploiting and trafficking a teenaged girl across B.C. and Alberta Peace was acquitted Tuesday on all counts.

David James Cornell, 34, was found not guilty in Williams Lake provincial court on charges of advertising and benefitting from the sexual services of a person under 18, and making and publishing child pornography. 

Cornell pleaded not guilty in February, claiming it was a case of mistaken identity, and alleged another man who also went by the name ‘DJ’ could have trafficked the victim.

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“I can say this, the judge found his testimony to be credible and found the complainant’s testimony to be not credible,” said Dustin Gagnon, Cornell’s defence lawyer. 

The trial began in 2017, and Gagnon pushed to have the case to thrown out due to delays. That request was withdrawn on April 28.

During trial in February, Crown prosecutors said the victim was under 16, and alleged Cornell had placed her pictures on Backpage, a well-known website for prostitution, in January 2017. That website later shut down in April 2018.

Prosecutors alleged Cornell had transported the victim to Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Grande Prairie, and Pink Mountain to various buyers, and that roughly $5,000 a night was being made.

Gagnon argued the Crown’s only evidence had been unreliable testimony from the victim.

Cornell has prior convictions from 2015 for trafficking in controlled substances, assault with a weapon, as well as breaking and entering.

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